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The week in pictures

The big story of the week has been the announcement that Champagne Taittinger is establishing a UK vineyard to produce English sparkling wine in partnership with Hatch Mansfield. Above is Damien Le Sueur, managing director of Taittinger, Pierre-Emmanuel Taittinger, and Patrick McGrath MW, managing director of Hatch Mansfield at the press briefing this week.

The drinks business has been kept busy hosting a number of Master competitions this week, starting with the Global Chardonnay Masters. The judging of submitted wines took place at Aveqia in London, an event venue and cookery studio where guests are able to prepare Nordic dishes, guided by experienced chefs. Judges, made up exclusively of MWs, included Miles Corish MW, Patrick Schmitt MW, Jonathan Pedley MW, Annette Scarfe MW, Rosemary George MW, Sally Easton MW, Emma Symington MW, Stephen Skelton MW and David Round MW.


Next, the drinks business hosted a competition organised on behalf of Wines of California, which saw judges Patrick Schmitt MW, Keith Isaac MW and Sarah Jane Evans MW taste 75 Cabernet Sauvignon from the region. The tasting took place at an Indian restaurant called The Painted Heron in Chelsea.

Then it was was the turn of Sauvignon Blanc, with judges tasting through some 180 wines to determine this year’s medal winners. The Masters judging was held at Gordon Ramsay’s York and Albany in Camden on 8 December. Judges included Hugo Rose MW, Adrian Garforth MW, Michelle Cherutti Kowal MW, Barbara Abraham MW, Rosemary George MW, Patrick Schmitt MW, Beverly Tabbron MW, Jo Locke MW and Roberto Della Pietra.

Champagne Lanson has also been making a mark this week, unveiling its “White Christmas” Champagne Christmas-trees in various venues across the UK. 

The first Amorim Taster of the Year Award was announced this week, with Tobias Brauweiler MS, head sommelier at Hakkasan, picking up the prize of a cork ice bucket for achieving the highest marks in the Tasting section of the Master Sommelier exam. Amorim recently became a sponsor of the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Ginjo Pearl, a new sparkling Sake, was launched in London’s Harrods department store this week, complete with a Japanese-themed installation and appropriately dressed staff.

Johnnie Walker treated db to a taste of the high life, launching its latest cocktail creation 28 floors up at Galvin at Windows restaurant and bar at the Park Lane Hilton Hotel. The Gentlemen’s Wager is a blend of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Antica Formula, Créme de Chataigne and chocolate bitters. At £40 it is a pricey serve, but worth it for the bar’s spectacular views across London.

Dea Latis, the forum for female beer fans and women in the beer industry, ran its fifth ‘Beers with Breakfast’ tasting this week, this time at the new Drake & Morgan venue at Kings Cross, London. Around 30 guests, including brewsters, marketeers, trainers and journalists enjoyed a five course breakfast, with each dish matched to a different beer.

Photo: Fraser Band

The Famous Grouse’s feline friend Turret was joined by a new mousing partner this week, Glen II, following the sad and sudden loss of the original Glen, who joined the Glenturret distillery in the summer. Stuart Cassells, general manager of The Famous Grouse Experience at Glenturret Distillery, said: “The whole team at Glenturret were so very sad about Glen’s passing, but none more so than Turret. We knew we had to get him a friend to play with and we searched extensively – finally we found a kitten around the same age and who was clearly in good health, and both cats were successfully introduced to each other.”

Swedish cider brand Rekorderlig brought its bartending event, Rekorderlig Jam Sessions, to London this week following its launch in Glasgow earlier this year. The event removed the competition element of cocktail creation, instead placing a focus on collaboration with the aim of “creating a community of bartenders who are excited about cider cocktails”, the brand said.

Hosted by Rekorderlig’s global brand ambassador Joel Persson and in association with Liquid Academy in Glasgow, the event was held at Rekorderlig’s ‘Cider Lodge’ at Southbank Centre’s Winter Festival in London.

db’s managing editor, Lucy Shaw, was lucky enough to be invited to spend a week in Chile and Argentina exploring the wines in Santa Rita’s portfolio, including Casa Real, Triple C and Bougainville. The journey began with a glide over the icy Andes into Chile.

Having touched down in Chile, on our first night we were treated to a summer concert held inside the stunning turquoise and gold neo-Gothic chapel at Santa Rita’s hotel, Casa Real, a former summer house owned by Diego Fernandez Concha. Among the songs performed was Puccini’s O Mio Bambino Caro made famous by the Merchant-Ivory film A Room with a View.

During a comprehensive tour of Santa Rita’s Chilean vineyards, which took us to Maipo, Colchagua and Apalta, we also paid a visit to its expansive Pumanque site, planted in 2005.

During the visit we dined beside the vines on ceviche, steak and chocolate cake

Our dinner the next evening was more threatening in nature – king crab at Santiago hotspot Mestizo.

Across the Andes in Argentina we paid a visit to Francis Mallmann’s restaurant 1884, which came 37th on this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. As you’d expect from an Argentine restaurant, beef played a starring role in the proceedings. Doña Paula winemaker Marcos Fernandez did a sterling job in finishing off his gargantuan barbecued beef rib, which looked fit for a Flintstone.

Back in Chile, we spent one night at the super swish “W” hotel in Santiago, where we enjoyed Pisco Sours on its roof terrace overlooking the Andes.

Santa Rita’s Caroline Park and Irish wine writer Leslie Williams make the most of the Pisco Sours.

The final leg of the trip took us to Matanzas by the Pacific Ocean, where we tasted through Santa Rita’s wines made close to the sea in Leyda and Casablanca.

There seemed no better setting to try Carmen’s new Wave Series Sauvignon Blanc than next to the ocean as the sun went down

Daring wine writer Leslie Williams couldn’t resist a dip in the bracing ocean before dinner

And finally… everyone seemed keen to make the most of the final rays of sunshine on the beach, including this canny canine.

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